How Schools Can Help Connect Families to the Child Tax Credit This Fall

Why are we talking about the Child Tax Credit now?

There is still time for families to claim the 2021 expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC), which provides up to $3,600 per child. Schools can help spread the word, and their staff members do not need to be tax experts. Schools can point families to, an easy-to-use site through which families can claim this money on their own before mid-November

After November, families still have until April 2025 to claim the 2021 CTC, but will need to file full tax returns. In January, free tax assistance sites will open up that can help them do so. Families that received the advance CTC payments (distributed between July and December 2021) still need to file a 2021 tax return to get the second half of the credit. Families that never received the advance CTC payments can still claim the whole credit. Many families never received the advance payments because they were not required to file tax returns so the IRS did not have recent records for them.

Why is Child Tax Credit school outreach so critical?

In families with low income, additional income like the CTC is associated with stronger educational performance, improved health, reduced stress and higher earnings when children become adults.The impacts of the expanded CTC are far-reaching: by December 2021, the advance CTC payments reduced the number of kids experiencing poverty by about 30%. The advance payments were also associated with a 26% drop in food insufficiency in households with children. Families spent the CTC advance payments on a number of basic needs, like school expenses, food, clothing, bills and housing. Research also demonstrates that families have used the CTC for back-to-school expenses. With high prices, the ongoing pandemic, and the start of the school year, the CTC can provide concrete support to families and children. 

Unfortunately, millions of kids are at risk of missing out on the CTC. These are disproportionately Black and Latinx children, immigrant children and children in low-income households. Schools are trusted sources of information and are well-positioned to reach many of the families at risk of missing out on the credit.  Across the country, school districts are gearing up to spread the word about the CTC by texting or emailing families and distributing printed or digital flyers, among other strategies for sharing information. The back-to-school period provides the perfect opportunity to spread the word about the CTC, as does the month before closes in mid-November.

For additional background information on the CTC, and to hear from school leaders about why and how they helped spread the word to families in their district, check out this short video.

Ready to take action or work with your local district to do so? Whether your school year already started or will start soon, here is what you can do now and into the fall:

  • Include flyers in multiple languages, like these, in “welcome back” resources at the start of the school year and/or in mid to late October as a final push before closes for simplified filing
    • Flyers can be printed or distributed digitally.
  • Send texts, emails and/or robocalls to families in your district, using these sample messages in multiple languages, during the back-to-school period and/or in mid to late October before closes
    • Past outreach experience has demonstrated that sending multiple messages is helpful for encouraging more families to claim the CTC.
  • Learn about additional school outreach ideas from our friends at the Get It Back campaign (project of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities) here.
  • Get creative with your outreach strategy! If you are looking for additional resources, check out our CTC outreach website, which includes resources toolkits, webinar recordings, and more!
  • Let us know if you are already doing CTC school outreach or are looking for additional support and resources to get started! Please fill out this short form

If you have any questions, are interested in setting up a staff training on the CTC, want support customizing materials for your school district, and/or want a unique URL for to track your outreach impact, please contact Julia Beebe: [email protected]